Tue, Feb 12, 2008 - Page 1 News List

Huckabee plans to dispute McCain's victory on Saturday

AP , WASHINGTON

Republican US presidential candidate Mike Huckabee snatched two wins over the weekend from presumptive party candidate Senator John McCain, but he is crying foul after McCain's apparent victory in the Washington state caucuses.

Huckabee's campaign released a statement on Sunday saying it will be exploring all legal options regarding the ``dubious final results.'' McCain was announced as the victor in the Saturday caucuses with 26 percent of the vote to Huckabee's 24 percent.

But Huckabee's campaign chairman, Ed Rollins, said Luke Esser, Washington's Republican Party chairman, chose to call the race too quickly for McCain.

Rollins said Huckabee was losing by 242 votes with 87 percent of the vote counted. He said there were another 1,500 or so votes that were apparently not counted.

"That is an outrage," Rollins said.

Rollins said the Huckabee campaign's lawyers will be on the ground in Washington soon to see why the count took so long, and why the vote-counting was stopped prematurely.

"It would be a disservice to every voter in Washington state to not pursue a full accounting of all votes cast," Rollins said. "As I said, we are prepared to go to court, and we are also prepared to take our case all the way to the Republican National Convention in September."

Esser said on Sunday evening that McCain's lead had narrowed, but only slightly. With just more than 93 percent of results in, Esser said McCain had 3,621 precinct delegates (25.4 percent) to Huckabee's 3,398 (23.8 percent) -- a difference of 223 out of 14,253 elected at that point.

Late on Saturday night, McCain had 3,468 precinct delegates to Huckabee's 3,226 -- a difference of 242.

Esser said despite Huckabee closing the margin, he is still confident with his declaration that McCain is the winner.

"I'm even more confident now," Esser said. "These latest batch of results confirms what I said last night. It's a close race, but it's clear Senator McCain will win the Washington state precinct caucuses."

"Had it been Governor Huckabee with a small, but substantial lead, I would have called it that way," he said.

The former Arkansas governor on Saturday won all 36 delegates at stake in Kansas and narrowly held on to win Louisiana's primary. He's hoping those results will give him momentum going into Tuesday's elections in Maryland and Virginia.

However, he badly trails McCain, the likely nominee, in the overall race for delegates. Huckabee has said he won't drop out until a candidate earns the 1,191 delegates needed to secure the nomination. McCain has 719 delegates and Huckabee has 234, according to latest tally by the Associated Press.

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